Military Spouse Hiring Preference in Federal Service

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  1. TinCanMan

    TinCanMan Active Member

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    Military Spouse Preference Basics
    Disclaimer
    Section 806 of Public Law 99-145, "Department of Defense (DoD) Authorization Act of 1986," directed DoD to increase employment opportunities for spouses of active duty Armed Forces personnel. The spouse preference program derived from this law applies to military spouses who relocate to accompany their sponsor on a permanent change of station (PCS) move to an active duty location. By giving these spouses priority in the employment selection process, Congress hoped to reduce the impact of frequent relocations on spouses’ careers.
    At DoD installations in the U.S., its territories and possessions, military spouses can exercise their statutory employment preference through the DoD Military Spouse Preference Program (Program S), an automated registration and referral system which operates as a subprogram of the Department of Defense Priority Placement Program (PPP). In foreign areas, eligible spouses receive preference under procedures administered by local DoD civilian personnel offices.
    DoD Military Spouse Preference Program (Program S), DoD PPP
    The Military Spouse Preference Program applies to competitive service positions in the U.S. and its territories and possessions. It does not apply to:

    Positions in the excepted service
    Positions filled from Office of Personnel Management (OPM) certificates or under agency Delegated Examining Unit or Direct Hire Authority procedures
    Non-appropriated fund (NAF) positions
    Positions in foreign areas, whether in the competitive or excepted service
    Positions filled under component career program procedures (Each Component must establish procedures for the consideration of spouse preference eligibles.)
    Positions filled at the full performance level that are covered by a mandatory mobility agreement
    Spouses who already obtained Federal employment in an appropriated fund (AF) or NAF position within the commuting area of the sponsor’s duty station on a full-time, part-time, or intermittent appointment expected to last for at least one year.
    Program S Registration Eligibility
    Spouses must meet a number of requirements before they can register for the Military Spouse Preference Program. They must be married to their military sponsor prior to the reporting date of the sponsor’s new assignment and can apply at any human resources (personnel) office within the commuting area of the sponsor’s permanent duty location. In addition, the spouse may register only if he or she accompanies a military sponsor who is:

    assigned by a PCS move from overseas to the U.S. or to a different commuting area within the U.S., including the U.S. territories or possessions;
    relocating to a new permanent duty station after completing basic and advanced individual training;
    permanently assigned to the same duty station where the sponsor received initial entry training;
    assigned by PCS to a service school regardless of the duration of the training; or
    a former military member who re-enlists and is placed directly in a permanent assignment.
    However, if spouse’s sponsor is reassigned on an unaccompanied tour with orders specifying his or her follow-on assignment, the spouse may register for positions in the commuting area of the follow-on assignment at any time during the sponsor’s unaccompanied tour. Spouses are not eligible for employment preference when their military sponsor relocates in connection with retirement or separation.
    Employment Preference
    In addition to positions covered under the Military Spouse Preference Program, DoD requires its activities to ensure relocating spouses receive proper consideration for other types of jobs. This includes NAF positions and DoD jobs at overseas locations. In general, DoD activities accomplish this by offering spouses preference under locally administered procedures.
    When a military spouse applies under an OPM announcement or delegated examining or direct hire procedures, spouse preference operates much like Veterans Preference. The hiring official must offer the job to the spouse first if the spouse:

    is within reach for selection
    certifies in writing to the employing activity that he or she is entitled to spouse preference, and
    the selection is not blocked by an applicant with Veterans Preference.
    However, current Federal employees within DoD who previously held positions at or above the grade level of the vacancies being filled, may be placed noncompetitively into the higher level vacancy despite the availability of spouse preference candidates.
    In addition, NAF employees separated as a result of a business-based action enjoy priority placement rights in the NAF activity from which separated. The also receive priority consideration over other eligible candidates, including spouses, at other NAF activities in the commuting area.
    Registration Assistance
    Local human resources offices serve as the registration points for the Military Spouse Preference Program. Information regarding spouse preference is also available at installation family centers. (Note: the most complete list of family center email addresses can be found at MAPsite’s Family Center Locator. Spouses in the U.S. may apply for the Military Spouse Preference Program 30 days prior to the sponsor’s reporting date to the new duty station. However, spouses traveling to overseas areas cannot receive preference until they actually arrive. A spouse remains eligible for preference throughout the sponsor’s tour until the spouse accepts or declines a job offer that is considered valid under DoD policy.
    Spouses applying for Program S or overseas preference must indicate whether they are interested in temporary positions. They should also bring the following documents when they register for preference:

    Application (SF-171 or OF 612) or resume
    Copy of an SF-50 documenting current or previous federal employment (if applicable)
    Copy of last performance appraisal (if the spouse currently works for the Federal government)
    Executive Order 12721 paperwork (if registering for Program S after returning from an overseas area)
    DD 214, Member 4 copy
    SF 15, claiming 10 point preference and letter from the Veterans Administration dated within last year showing percentage of disability (if applicable)
    Any required transcripts (This is especially important if the spouse seeks a position as a health care provider.)
    Applicable licenses or certifications
    PCS orders documenting sponsor’s assignment
    Preference and Temporary Employment
    Military spouse preference applies to temporary positions expected to last one year or longer. Long-term temporary positions affect spouse preference in much the same way as permanent positions -- spouses lose their preference if they accept a temporary appointment expected to last one year or longer, or if they decline an offer after voluntarily registering for such consideration. When a spouse accepts temporary employment expected to last at least one year, and the appointment is terminated in less than one year for reasons other than cause, the spouse regains his or her preference eligibility.
    Accepting or declining a temporary position expected to last less than one year does not end a spouse’s preference. However, preference does end if the spouse accepts and the appointment is subsequently extended for a total period of one year or longer, or the spouse declines such an extension.
    Spouses employed under temporary appointments of less than one year (either part-time or full-time) continue to receive spouse preference when referred for permanent employment or temporary employment of one year or longer.
    However, under a trial program called MSP Choice implemented June 1, 2001, military spouses in the European Theater enjoy more flexible options. If the MSP Choice program proves a success, it may be implemented at other DoD locations.
    Military Spouse Preference (MSP) Choice
    MSP Choice, a two-year trial program approved by the Department of Defense, allows military spouses to accept a wider variety of positions without losing their preference. The program applies to all DoD appropriated fund and non-appropriated funds positions in the European Theater.
    Under MSP Choice, a European Theater spouse will lose preference only if he or she accepts or declines the offer of a permanent full-time or permanent part-time position. At the same time, such spouses can accept an unlimited number of the following kinds of jobs without losing their spouse preference:

    Temporary positions lasting two years or less.
    Time limited positions lasting four years or less.
    Permanent Intermittent Positions (No time limits to these position, but the work must be on an “on-call” basis, such as DoD Dependent Schools substitute teachers.)
    Non-Appropriated Fund (NAF) “Flexible Category” Positions (a job category used by Navy Exchange and Air Force Morale, Welfare & Recreation organizations).
    The program allows spouses to find employment as soon as they are ready to work -- particularly in NAF organizations -- and still retain their preference for permanent jobs that may not be immediately available. As a result, military spouses in Europe enjoy both increased continuing income and career development opportunities.
    In addition, any European Theater spouse who lost his or her preference by accepting a term, temporary, permanent intermittent, or flexible category job can have his or her spouse preference reinstated. Individuals who believe they are eligible for reinstatement should contact their local Civilian Personnel or Human Resources Office (CPO/HRO).
    Military spouses seeking more information on MSP Choice should contact their local CPO/HRO.

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    Military Spouse Preference Program
    The Military Spouse Preference Program was implemented to increase employment opportunities for spouses of members of the Armed Forces. The intent is to lessen the career interruptions of spouses who relocate with their military sponsors. Military spouse preference provides priority in the employment selection process for military spouses who are relocating to accompany their military sponsor on a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move to an active duty assignment.
    Military Spouse - The Military Spouse Preference Program:
    applies to spouses of active duty military members of the U.S. Armed Forces, including the U.S. Coast Guard and full-time National Guard, who desire priority consideration for positions at DoD activities in the U.S. and its territories and possessions;
    applies only within the commuting area of the permanent duty station of the sponsor;
    applies only if the spouse entered into the marriage with the military sponsor prior to the reporting date to the new duty assignment.
    The Military Spouse Preference Program does not apply when the sponsor is separating or retiring.
    When are military spouse preference eligibles subject to priority consideration?
    Spouse preference applies when management wants to fill a position from a competitive list of applicants. A spouse preference eligible who is ranked among the "best qualified" on a competitive list must be selected for the position.
    Preference applies to DoD appropriated fund positions at grades GS-15 and below (and equivalent wage grade positions) in the competitive or excepted service. Preference also applies to non-appropriated fund positions at grades UA-8 and below.
    Spouse preference does not apply when management chooses to select from a list of noncompetitive candidates or from one of the alternative recruitment sources. The alternative recruitment sources include: appointment of a 30% disabled veteran; VRA appointment; transfer at the same or lower grade, reassignment or change to lower grade; placement to correct an EEO deficiency; placement of a handicapped individual; or placement of an employee returning from an overseas tour of duty.
    How do military spouse preference eligibles exercise preference?
    The DoD PPP manual in Chapter 14 states that referral through Program S is the only means by which eligible spouses will receive preference for competitive service positions in the commuting area of the sponsor's permanent duty station.
    Spouses who are not eligible for consideration through PPP, are eligible for MSP when applying for DoD positions in the U.S. or in foreign areas through the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) or a DoD Delegated Examining Office (DEU) competitive examination. MSP applies only to the specific announcement under which the spouse is applying and only if that list is used to fill the position.
    To request MSP, all spouses must submit the following documents:
    Application or resume;
    Statement requesting MSP; and
    Copy of military sponsor's PCS orders.
    NOTE: THIS WILL CHANGE ONCE RESUMIX FOR DEU IS IMPLEMENTED. A COPY OF MILITARY SPONSOR'S PCS ORDERS WILL ONLY BE REQUIRED AT THE TIME OF SELECTION.
    Spouse preference eligibility is terminated on placement into, or declination of, a continuing position at any grade level for which the eligible spouse has registered or applied for employment, whichever occurs first. Preference is also terminated on placement into any continuing position in the new duty station, i.e., one expected to continue for at least 1 year in either the appropriated or NAF workforces, whether or not preference was applied. Spouse preference may be exercised no more than one time per permanent relocation of the military sponsor.
    FAMILY MEMBERS WITH E.O. 12721 ELIGIBLITY
    Executive order 12721 enables certain eligible family members (EFMs) to be appointed non-competitively to the Civil Service once they return to the U.S. Those individuals may be appointed to any Federal occupation and grade level for which qualified.
    FAMILY MEMBER - An unmarried child under age 23 or a spouse. An individual must have been a family member at the time he or she met the overseas service requirement and other conditions, but does not need to be a family member at the time of non-competitive appointment in the United States.
    Who is eligible?
    To be eligible, an individual must have worked as an Appropriated Fund Federal employee overseas while a family member of an Uniformed Service Member, civilian employee, or Non-Appropriated Fund (NAF) employee serving overseas. In the overseas assignment, the EFM must have completed 52 weeks of creditable service; received a fully successful or better (or equivalent) performance rating; and must have returned to the U.S. from the overseas tour of duty and met time requirements.
    What is the time limit for using eligibility?
    An individual is eligible for temporary, term or career-conditional appointment(s) under E.O. 12721 for a period of 3 years following the date of return from overseas to the United States to resume residence.

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